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Record UN global aid appeal

December 5, 2016

The United Nations needs a record amount of money in 2017 to provide aid to 93 million people in 33 countries, its humanitarian chief says. A third of those in need come from just three war-ravaged countries.

UN headquarters in Geneva
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen

The United Nations on Monday launched an appeal for a record $22.2 billion (20.9 billion euros) to enable the world body to provide aid next year to rising numbers of people around the world left in need by conflicts and disasters.

Aid work "is more necessary and courageous than ever," humanitarian aid chief Stephen O'Brien said in Monday's report, adding that ever-longer crises were pushing up the number of those requiring aid.

O'Brien told a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, that the record appeal reflected "a state of humanitarian need in the world not witnessed since the Second World War," noting also that man-made conflicts were behind 80 percent of humanitarian catastrophes.

The UN's Stephen O'Brien
O'Brien: growing gap between need and available fundsImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Girardin

However, he pointed out that climate change was likely to make natural disasters "more frequent, more severe" as well.

Just three conflict-ridden countries - Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan - account for around a third of those in need.

The global appeal aims to raise enough funds to cover the needs of the most severely stricken 92.8 million people, with a further 36 million also expected to require aid across 33 countries next year.

Syrian conflict takes precedence

The amount called for this year surpasses the $20.1 billion initially requested for 2016. The sum called for was eventually raised to $22.1 billion, but donors fell far short of that goal, giving just $11.4 billion for aid projects.

Destroyed street in Syria's Aleppo
The Syrian conflict has caused a massive humanitarian crisisImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Sana

At its first such appeal in 1992, the UN estimated that just $2.7 billion would suffice to cover global aid needs.

Syria is to receive the largest portion of the funds, with the country wracked by a more than 5-year-long conflict that has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced more than half the population.

South Sudan, which has also been in the grip of a bloody civil war since 2013, is the next in line, followed by Yemen.

tj/kms (AFP, Reuters)